Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student-athlete Philip Lanieri III has been named National All-America by the American Football Coaches Association. The senior Port Jefferson native was one of four defensive backs selected for the year-end honor.
A third-year starter, Lanieri had a team-high five interceptions with 19 return yards in 11 games. He also broke up nine passes and had 42 tackles, including 23 unassisted and two for lost yards. He had multiple tackles in 10 games and at least one interception in four contests.
An Industrial and Management Engineering major, Lanieri had a season-high three pass breakups with a pair of tackles at Alfred University on Sept. 12. He picked up his first interception of the season, along with four tackles (three solo) and a pass breakup, in a win at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Transit Trophy Game two weeks later. He had five tackles (four solo) with one for a loss of two yards and a pass breakup against the United States Merchant Marine Academy on Oct. 3 before intercepting two passes (13 return yards) with two tackles, including 0.5 for lost yards, in a win over the University of Rochester on Oct. 17.
The following week, Lanieri made a season-high five unassisted tackles (six total) with an interception (two return yards) and two pass breakups, including one in the end zone on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt with no time left in regulation, in a 21-20 win at Hobart College. He then had seven tackles (three solo) against Springfield College and a team-best and season-high nine stops (four solo) with a pass breakup in a win in the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game at Union College to close out the regular season. Lanieri finished his career with two stops (one solo), an interception with a four-yard return and a pass breakup in a victory over Buffalo State College in the Asa S. Bushnell Championship Bowl.
He finished third in the Liberty League in interceptions per game (0.45) and fourth in passes defended (1.27 per game) and was the Liberty League Defensive Performer of the Week following the game at Hobart. Lanieri was selected to the All-Liberty League First Team before being chosen to play in the National Bowl in Miami, Florida. He helped the Engineers to a 9-2 record and first place in the Liberty League standings with a 6-1 mark.
As a junior, he had six interceptions with 25 return yards and seven pass breakups while starting all 11 games. He made 28 tackles with 19 solo and one for lost yards. He also forced a fumble and recovered another, which he returned 64 yards for a touchdown. Lanieri was All-Liberty League First Team and the team’s Defensive Ultimate Grinder Award winner. The year prior, he was All-League Honorable Mention after recording 44 tackles (29 unassisted) and a team-best four interceptions (four return yards) with three pass breakups in 10 games.